The Eye of the Fish

Leviathan
April 20, 2019

Building Products and Methods

A bit of a change of tack here on Eye of the Fish – away from burning cathedrals and crazy housing – we thought that it may be useful to bring to your attention a MBIE discussion paper on legislative reform of the Building Sector.

It is quite a wide-ranging review, probably the biggest for years since the actual review of the Building Act itself in 2004, they have helpfully colour-coded their publications, so that Part 1 (intro) is in green. It is dealing with Risk and Liability (Part 4 – is in a bright pink), the Building Levy (Part 5 – is in purple), Offences and Penalties (Part 6 – is in orange), Occupational regulation (Part 3 – is dark blue), but the part that interests us most is Building Products and Methods (Part 2 – is in bright blue – the bit we’re going to discuss). MBIE would like the feedback by 5pm on Sunday on 16 June. Sounds a long way away, but it’ll be here before you know.

So, what do they want to know? Well, to do that you really need to download and read the thing yourself, but I’m going to do a bit of summarising here to help you along. Right from the outset I’m going to say that I find this confusing – the short Blue version says that “MBIE wants your feedback on three sets of proposals” but the longer Blue version says that “MBIE proposes seven changes to building products regulation”. Hmmm. Does that mean that Proposal One is divided into seven sub-parts? or something else? At the end of the longer document, they ask a series of questions – 27 questions in total. Phew!

I’ll take it slowly.

Proposal One: Improve information and accountability for building products and methods.

Proposal Two: Strengthen the framework for product certification. This applies to both products and methods.

Proposal Three: Make consenting easier for modern methods of construction, including off-site manufacturing.

(That last one – off-site manufacturing – sounds like they are talking about how to make Prefab work better. Good!).

I’m now going to list their next bit: MBIE proposes seven changes to building product regulation.

Change One: Widen the purpose of the Building Act to include the regulation of building products and methods.

Change Two: Provide clear definitions for ‘building product’ and ‘building method’.

Change Three: Require product manufacturers and suppliers to supply information about their building products. Set minimum standards for that information. This does not apply to building methods.

Change Four: Clarify responsibilities of manufacturers, suppliers, designers and builders for building products and building methods.

Change Five: Give MBIE the power to compel information to support an investigation into a building product of method.

Change Six: Strengthen the framework for product certification for both products and methods.

Change Seven: Enable a regulatory framework for modern methods of construction, including off-site manufacture.

There’s way too much for me to discuss here – better that you download the papers from the links above, but let’s have a look at the very last change first: MMC. (Modern Methods of Construction – or, as we are more used to calling it, Prefab, or Off-site manufacturing).

Proposals

Amend the Building Act to enable a regulatory framework that would future-proof the building regulatory system for MMC. Features of this framework include:

• enabling a manufacturer certification scheme for repeatable manufacture processes used to produce building work

• clarifying what roles and responsibilities for MMC will be when the new framework is in place

• minimising duplication of effort by:

• — not requiring two consents for the same building work

• — considering whether to require BCAs to accept each other’s consents and Code Compliance Certificates.

How does all that sound? The proposals are based on this little diagram:

They then pose some questions that they want feedback on:

2.23 Are these the correct features for a future-proofed regulatory framework for MMC?

2.24 What would be the impact of such a regulatory framework for MMC?

2.25 For manufacturers of MMC, including off-site manufacture: How would the proposed framework impact your business?

2.26 For manufacturers of MMC, including off-site manufacture: Would you use the manufacturer certification scheme, and how would it need to be designed to work for you?

2.27 For building consent authorities: What would be the impact of a requirement for BCAs to accept one another’s consents and Code Compliance Certificates?

Feel free to comment here ! Help us make sense of it all !